Ever since I was sixteen, I’ve dated college guys. Yes, in my one moment of teenage rebellion, I dated a college guy when I was in high school. My mom thought he was a college freshman which was kind of the truth…but instead of being an eighteen year old, wonderful, upstanding college freshman like my best friend, he was actually twenty one and had started college late. Oops.
While I probably spent loads of time complaining about how complicated things were, there were plenty of things that made dating a fellow student super easy. You live on the same campus (maybe even the same floor) and you’re both on the same work hard, play hard, sleep is for the weak college student schedule.I remember diner dates at three in the morning, sleeping in until noon, and being able to walk to each other’s places in under five minutes.
For some reason, I thought that dating after college would be easier. I don’t really know why. I thought there wouldn’t be homework and tests to get in the way. I thought there would be real dates. And I definitely thought roommates would not be a problem. I was wrong.
First, there’s the issue of how to meet people. In college, there were always theme parties. Sure, they had different themes, but they could all be summed up with “Something and Scantily Clad Women”. It was perfectly acceptable to meet someone at this type of function. Not sure if they’d be in it for the long haul, but hey, it’s college. Right? Anywho. I’m not saying that these sort of events don’t exist after graduation (I’ve been to a few ugly sweater parties!) but they’re harder to find because you know, you live in a new city and don’t have friends to invite you to these sort of things. Seriously, getting out there and meeting ANYBODY is hard, let alone someone you’d like to date.
If you’re lucky enough to find somebody to date, there are a bunch of other issues to get in your way. People might not have homework and tests anymore, but they may have projects to do for work or business trips to go on. Oh wait, they still might have homework and tests – I know plenty of people choosing to go to graduate school part time while they work full time.
Speaking of work, work schedules are another thing to contend with! Depending on the type of work your significant other does, he/she might not be available the same times that you are. You might only be left with a small window of time between when you get out of work and he or she needs to get ready to go to sleep. Also, we’re old now. Five drinks gives us hangovers. After working 40+ hours in a week, WE’RE TIRED.
Climbing the career ladder can also be a roadblock on your way to true love. At least when we were students, we kind of knew when people were going to leave – graduation. On one hand, dating after college is nice because there isn’t this set time that your person is DEFINITELY going to leave. On the other hand, your person could leave at any time! If one of you gets a job offer 500 miles away, you have to think about each other’s career plans before accepting (if you’re in a serious relationship – I do NOT think dropping everything and moving across the country for someone you just met is ever a good idea).
Oh, and remember how I thought there wouldn’t be roommates? Oh, there are still roommates. More and more people are moving home to save money AND THAT’S FINE. But, that might mean following rules that you haven’t had to follow since you were eighteen. Also, it means meeting the family a lot sooner than expected. This can be both good and bad. And awkward.
Working in student affairs, I have a few other tricks up my sleeve that makes my dating life oh-so-complicated. First off, people barely understand what I do for a living. Second, between being on call and student events, my work schedule is CRAZY. Yes, I can go out when I’m on call, but I might have to leave in the middle of our fun plans! No, I can’t go to that restaurant it’s too far away. Yes, we better take two cars in case I do have to leave. Also, my living situation. I don’t have roommates, but I do have an entire building full of residents and RAs that just loooovvvee to gossip. It’s like living in a middle school sometimes, I swear.
And one more thing…even though all twentysomethings are the same AGE, people can definitely be in different places in their lives! Some are looking to settle down NOW, others don’t see that happening until they are older, have more money, or have their career established. Before you get serious, you need to make sure that you are both on the same page!
I never expected grown up dating to be this complicated. It almost makes me wish I was back in high school, when dating involved going to the prom and holding hands in the hallway. Almost.